Guest blog written by Marc Taylor, June 2022

Firstly, how many fly species are there in Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The answer surprised me: 7,319!

My understanding is that Wiltshire to date has records for 8,452 individual flies.

Without flies and their larval activity including decomposition;

we'd be up to our eyeballs in poo and dead bodies. Their larvae are cleaning up after us and the adults are pollinating for us. This is why you've got to love a fly.

~ Dr Erica McAlister, Senior Curator of Diptera at the Natural History Museum, London. 

Their part in being pollinators is suggested to only be bettered by bees, and flies don't sting. So beyond their own fabulous diversity and niches into which they fit, they are important to record as these records allow us to review how biodiversity, the environment and our future is thought to be going.

Unless you can walk with someone who can help you in the field, when you see an interesting fly - photograph it. Many may fly off, however many will oblige and for several moments. So take as many pictures as you can. This is because many look very similar if not identical to other species, for instance we will frequently pass blowflies, but which is it? A reasonable mobile phone picture of the legs would show enough to separate the Blowflies Calliphora vicina (Common Bluebottle) and Calliphora vomitoria (Orange-bearded Bluebottle) - see the images below.

For identification help, explore online resources such a Steve Falk’s Flickr, then ask for your species decision to be confirmed by submitting it to the county recorder or via iRecord. You can get identification help from any of the Facebook fly family recording schemes, too.

These images are from Steven Falk's Flickr site listed above:

Calliphora vicina (Common Bluebottle)Calliphora vomitoria (Orange-bearded Bluebottle)

Left = Calliphora vicina (Common Bluebottle)
Right = Calliphora vomitoria (Orange-bearded Bluebottle)

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